Monday, May 31, 2021

Tuesday Treasures

May 2021 - Toronto ON

Rush Lane aka Graffiti Alley

Oddly I have never found a Rush Lane sign!
Graffiti Alley runs parallel to the trendy stretch of Queen Street West. It encompasses three city blocks and includes the contiguous alleyway of Rush Lane.

The vibrant spray paint scribbles formed the backdrop for comedian Rick Mercer’s weekly televised rants on the CBC.

Here's a 2018 episode of Rick's Rant about Tim Horton's filmed in the alley.

Many assume the lane was named for Canadian prog-rock heroes Rush, but it was named for Mark MacKenzie’s great-great-grandfather Frank, who “came over from Ireland with nothing and ended up owning a lot of the stores right on Queen St. He was a contemporary of (retail magnate Timothy) Eaton, basically,” MacKenzie said.

Rush’s string of shops received deliveries from the lane behind Queen St., which runs between Portland St. and Augusta Ave. where Graffiti Alley now runs. MacKenzie recalls a taxi driver taking him there in the 1970s, before a signpost was ever installed. Everyone knew Rush Lane, he said.

Frank and Mary Rush are listed in the 1881 Census for St. Andrew’s Ward as Roman Catholic immigrants from Ireland with five children: Mary, Mary Ann, Ellen, Teresa and Margret. Eldest son Edward, the great-grandfather of MacKenzie, had already grown up and left home by then. He eventually worked for the City of Toronto and had a hand in naming Rush Lane, MacKenzie said.

“It took the Eatons five or six generations to blow their money. Apparently it only took the Rushes a couple generations. None of that money worked its way down,” said MacKenzie, now an Ottawa-area entrepreneur. In an unlikely twist, Mercer attended the wedding of MacKenzie’s sister, who married a producer at the CBC.

Graffiti Alley is an ever changing art gallery but it continues to shrink as more condos get built.
If you click on Graffiti Alley in the labels/tags below this post you will find many more posts I have done over the years documenting Graffiti Alley. There are some amazing murals there as well as just plain ugly graffiti.

As I said it is ever changing, last June some 40 artists painted many Black Lives Matter murals in response to the George Floyd murder as well as a local police incident around the same time, Regis Korchinski-Paquet.

There photos were taken on a visit in May 2021.


Some of my favourites taken in previous years that are still there.

2019 collage.

2018 collage.


  1. So that's where the rants were done!

  2. How looking for your area to get 40 artist to paint for Black Life Matter (George Floydd) around my area there call communist. Hopefull we can improve for social and civil rights.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

  3. ...this place is on the top of my to see list! I wonder when they will let me in? Thanks Jackie for the tour, take care and stay safe.

  4. So many beautiful and amazing murals

  5. I like all those murals, there's some very important ones in there.

  6. How cool! Every town needs a Graffiti Alley! I love the bit of history and trivia.

    Thanks for sharing your link at 'My Corner of the World' this week!


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